"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, March 10, 2006

NCLB Adding to Re-Segregation Impetus

The re-segregation of American schools did not begin with NCLB, but the re-segregation has certainly been aided by NCLB policy that discourages schools from accepting poor and brown children who might drag down the scores of a school now making its test targets each year. Now it seems that court orders are appearing that challenge decades-old desegregation orders that allowed majority to minority transfers in school systems across the South.

With schools that are making AYP reaching capacity as more kids transfer from schools that aren't, we can see the pressure growing in places like Bibb County, Georgia for communities to relinquish their commitment to de-segregation as a way to keep their schools off the watch list:

Poor students would be stuck in inner-city Bibb County public schools, critics say, if a federal judge gives his final stamp of approval to changes in the county's desegregation order.

The proposal, which awaits a final decision in U.S. District Court, would modify a 1978 court order. Under the proposal, schools that are at capacity would no longer have to accept "majority-to-minority" transfers or students who would like to leave their "failing" school for a higher performing one. That's a provision of federal No Child Left Behind mandates.

It's possible that the changes could lead to more black-student dropouts as well as more schools that are considered underachieving, said a professor who studies school integration nationwide.

Why the changes? More than a year ago, a group of white parents filed suit, asking the court to change Bibb's desegregation order. Among other features, that order allows students who attend a Bibb County school in which they're in the majority race to transfer to one in which they would be in the minority. These majority-to-minority transfers were intended to help integrate public schools.

This school year, more than 750 black students used the "M-to-M" provision to leave their largely black neighborhood schools and transfer to mostly white schools.
Last week, Senior Judge Wilbur D. Owens Jr. proposed that if those schools are now full, they no longer have to take M-to-M transfers, nor No Child Left Behind transfers, hardship or out-of-county, tuition-paying transfers. Owens is giving the public until Wednesday to submit objections to the proposal. So far, one letter has been received, a court clerk said. . . .

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